Rail Trail Adventures in Kawartha Lakes
For many recreational cyclsits, ‘Rail Trails’, are the trail of choice for day trip and overnight cycling trips. These converted rail beds are increasingly found throughout Ontario and offer opportunites to explore more and more of this province along car-free corridors in scenic, rural settings.
The City of Kawartha Lakes, which incorporates Lindsay and the surrounding area, including the villages of Bobcaygeon, Kinmount and Fenelon Falls, among others, sits at the cross-roads of two major rail trails in Ontario. Travelling east to west across the entire region, the Great Trail, known locally as the Kawartha Trans Canada Trail intersects the Victoria Rail Trail, which runs north to south, (download map here) in Lindsay and offers plenty of trail riding for those looking to take bike trips in the heart of Ontario’s cottage country.
For a fantastic day trip, one doesn’t need to look further than the 22kim stretch (one-way) on the Victoria Rail Trail between Lindsay and Fenelon Falls. Newly resurfaced in 2018, this crushed stone trail needs to be on your summer schedule!
Set off from Old Mill Park in Lindsay with stunning ruins of an old mill dating back to the 1890’s. Take advantage of the access to public parking and restrooms as well as an easy connection to the route along a trail that abuts the Trent Severn Waterway and Scugog River. There are plenty of grocery shops and convenience stores in town to pick up supplies or if you need any last minute bike parts or service, swing into the Down to Earth bike shop located right on Kent Street.
Heading north along the paved, riverside path watch carp and other fish splash as you head through a quiet residential area and out of Lindsay. Paved until the old city limits, this trail is never far from the Scugog River to the east and crosses the western arm of Sturgeon Lake as you pass through Ken Reid Conservation Area. Stop on the bridge that spans the wetlands and spot any number (67 in fact!) of song birds or waterfowl that call this ecologically significant area their permenant home. Spring time is a great seaon to ride this trial where the number of species here balloons to over 150!
The resurfacing of this trail means comfortable riding amongst a mix of forested and agricultural lands that are broken up by frequent crossings of tributaries that flow into Scugog River and Sturgeon Lake. Unlike many rail trails there is a surprising amount of shaded riding including beautiful stretches of cedar-lined corridors and other deciduous tree canopies. Part of what will make this trail very popular for cyclists is that it is convenient, well-maintained, comfortable for riding and diverse in landscapes. Between Ranchers Road and Long Beach Road, about the 16km mark, cyclists will also enjoy the stunning views across the rolling landscapes of Kawartha Lakes, east over the northern arm of Sturgeon Lake.
The final few kilometres into Fenelon Falls end at Fenelon Station Gallery (open May to September) and Lindsay Street, the main road into the village. Riding over the bridge into the main commercial area, it’s immediately obvious how this community got its name. Stay right and hop off your bike to walk around the Trent Severn Waterway Lock 34 system and stunning waterfalls that empties Cameron Lake into Sturgeon Lake.
From pub fare to Thai food, if you didn’t plan on picnicing on the grass over looking the waterway or in the Garnet Graham Park, there are lots of great options to eat in town. For craft beer lovers, set to open in 2019 is the Fenelon Falls Brewing Company with a perfect location adjacent to the Trent Severn Waterway. Our trip included a stop at the brand new Kawartha Shortbread store on Lindsay Street that offers a great selection of sandwiches, soups (we had Morrocan Carrot) and others mains, as well as the quintessential Kawartha treat, award-winning butter tarts.
Take the time to explore the town with unique heritage and attractions like Maryboro Lodge with a fantastic Tinker Toy exhibit as the Canadian manufacturer of Tinker Toys were once located in Fenelon Falls across from the museum. The lodge is conveniently located in Garrnet Graham Park with bike racks out front. If you need a caffine fix before your ride back south to Lindsay stop in at The Book Lady, a second hand book store and ‘Literacy Cafe’ for a well-deserved latte on the patio.
Riding back to Lindsay offers up the same scenic views and pristine countryside with the added bonus of arriving in a thriving town with plenty to do and reasons to stay overnight. The certified bicycle friendly Days Inn & Suites in Lindsay is a great option for single riders or those in groups with dedicated bike storage and an indoor heated pool. Post-ride meals and treats are as diverse as they are abundent. A tried and true faviourite is the Kawartha Dairy Ice Cream Dairy Barn, while The Pie Eyed Monk Brewery in town is located just off Kent Street and serves up some of the best craft beers this side of the Scugog.
Additional Visitor Information
- City of Kawartha Lakes – www.ExploreKawarthaLakes.com
- Kawarthas Northumberland – www.KawawrthasNorthumberland.com
- Great Places to Cycle: Kawarthas Northumberland – www.OntarioByBike.ca/KawarthasNorthumberland
- Certified Bicycle Friendly Businesses in Kawarthas Northumberland – www.OntarioByBike.ca/KawarthasNorthumberland_Businesses